Hundreds arrested protesting Keystone XL oil pipeline
Protesters hope to persuade President Obama not to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline that would run from Canada to Texas. But the State Department already says its safe, and supporters point to thousands of new jobs.
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In a statement, Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer said “TransCanada takes all incidents very seriously … none of the incidents involved the pipe in the ground. The integrity of Keystone is sound.”Skip to next paragraph
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In its environmental impact statement, the US State Department said the existing pipeline experienced 14 spills since June 2010. Seven were 10 gallons or less, two were between 300 and 500 gallons, and one was 21,000 gallons.
The State Department estimates that the maximum the Keystone XL could potentially spill would be 2.8 million gallons along an area of 1.7 miles.
The Canadian government said Thursday it expects Obama to approve the pipeline.
Environment Minister Peter Kent told Reuters that his government “can look forward to eventual approval by the American government” and that TransCanada had “perhaps one of the best records of any pipeline operator” in North America.
Proponents of the pipeline say it will help the troubled US economy. TransCanada says the US will receive $20 billion through new job creation and local property taxes. The State Department report estimates that the pipeline will create between 5,000 and 6,000 new jobs that will generate up to $419 million in total wages. Nearly $7 billion will be added through additional costs, such as supplies and permitting.
Environmentalists and their supporters, including Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) and former Vice President Al Gore, say the pipeline will be a threat to national security because of its potential dangers and that it presents lasting harm to natural resources.
Bill Erasmus, the Assembly of First Nations regional chief for the Northwest Territories told CBS News Saturday that the pipeline will likely harm the Ogallala Aquifer, which covers 450,000 square kilometers and includes portions of Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.
“If there is a spill in that aquifer, it will mess up the water for about four million people,” Mr. Erasmus said.
The State Department will conduct a series of public meetings Sept. 26-30 in Texas, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Texas, and South Dakota. A final public hearing is scheduled Oct. 7 in Washington. Another round of protests is expected to take place in Ottawa Sept. 26.